Archive for January, 2017

Thoughts on Holocaust Denial…. and the “Apple of God’s Eye”

January 27, 2017

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I am currently quite close to the end of the Old Testament once more in my daily reading. This morning I read from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, in Chapter 2: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.” (Verses 8-13)

This phrase “the apple of your eye” is used commonly today to refer to someone you cherish – and there is no doubt about the fact that the Lord held His ancient chosen people, those who were obedient amongst the Jews, in this esteem. This chapter is also prophetic of the promise of the Messiah – Jesus our Lord and Saviour; and today, for all those amongst the nations (whether of Jewish ethnicity or not) who accept Him as Lord and Saviour, we are “the apple of His eye.” In this regard I believe it is true to say that offences may come – but the Lord’s judgement will ultimately fall upon those who are responsible for these offences. (Luke 17v1)

Later on I coincidentally heard a lady speak on the radio of her court battle with a “Holocaust denier.” Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I thought: “For a historian or public figure to go out of his way to try to prove that the Holocaust ‘never happened’ must surely take up a lot of valuable time, money and energy. So why would they do it?” I researched just a few of the many well-known personalities who are so strangely adamant that the Holocaust never happened and found that they all had one very obvious trait in common… anti-Semitism. However, to research the psyche of the deniers would take much longer and would perhaps take up much more than just a few paragraphs…

To tell an escapee from Daesh, or a person who has been mugged and robbed that it ‘has never happened’ is a hurtful and spiteful attack on the credibility of that person and the very real traumatic experience which has impacted his or her life. I can only imagine how the (now very elderly) victims of the holocaust must feel when they hear the derogatory words of a denier about a very real pogrom which was directed at millions of their people. The horror of those memories and the extent of those evil offences are still a very real part of their lives too, whether sleeping or awake. Jesus said: “Woe unto the world because of offences!  for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matthew 18v7)

Furthermore, despite what some would have us believe; real Christians, those born again of the Spirit of God have this one thing in common: their love for the Jewish people. It has been recorded in history that “Christians” at one time persecuted the Jews. However, those by whom offences came throughout this world’s turbulent history may have called themselves “Christians,” but they most certainly were not.

How wonderful that the promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, of David’s royal line, still stands today with arms outstretched to all individuals of the nations of the world – whatever their background. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3v14)

I also believe that it is significant in these dramatic days in which we live, that a very great number of Jewish people are coming to see the truth of this beloved Messiah who loved them and gave Himself for them and indeed for all the world. Only He can bring healing to troubled minds in the wake of terrifying experiences and only He can break down the barriers that divide mankind. To those who truly know Him as their personal Lord and Saviour, Paul says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3v28&29)

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What is “The Church?”

January 16, 2017

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I was at a funeral a few days ago, in a small church which was absolutely packed to capacity, given that the deceased was very well known in this rural community. Later after standing in the bitterly cold wind in the country churchyard, I decided to make my way into the warm church hall for a welcome cup of hot tea and the customary sandwiches and “tray bakes.” Some people that I talked with referred in vague terms to “the church” in conversation, something which led me to my present train of thought…

So what exactly is “the Church?” Many would say that it is an organisation or denomination… their denomination; others would say that it is a building; still others would use the term generally, in the ecumenical sense for members of many (usually mainstream) denominations, while there are those who would say that “the Church” consists of those who “attend church services.”

Well, the truth is that “The Church” as portrayed in scripture is not a building, nor an organisation of religious people, nor a denomination or denominations, nor even the “people who attend church services.” “The Church” is that body of believers throughout this entire world who have been truly born again of the Spirit of God – those who have trusted, by faith, in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and who “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1John 1v7) These individuals may attend a variety of different churches or denominations but they are marked by one common trait – the love in their hearts for both their Saviour and each other. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13v35)

The warmth and love that is felt when having fellowship with other believers is second to none… and this love is also extended to my fellow travellers in life, whatever their faith or indeed lack of. The believer, the member of that body of Christ has a love for souls and a desire to see them saved and while they may not always see “eye to eye” with fellow Christians of other denominations, they have a love in their hearts for those individuals; love which transcends their differences.

We are not to be surprised if “the world hates us.” (1John 3v13) But understandably it would be surprising to feel the coldness and animosity of those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in the Lord – and yet this must not affect our attitude to them.

In Matthew 24 we are told of many of the signs of Christ’s coming again. In Verse 10-13 we read: “And then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Coldness and lack of love are surely traits of these last days. Places of worship are full of many nominal Christians but “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1John 3v13)

To love the Lord our God and one another is the greatest commandment upon which all others are based. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1John 4v18)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1John 3v23)

And so, “the Church” know the Lord and the Lord knows those that are His. I love the old hymn by Samuel J. Stone: “The Church’s One Foundation” which embraces this truth… “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Timothy 2v19)

Many denominations were represented at that funeral, but there is only one Church – the Church which is made up of those individuals who have availed of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation; those who love Him and walk with Him until He comes or calls them Home…

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord:

She is His new creation by water and the Word;

From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;

With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died.”

Link to this hymn, which in its original form has seven verses: https://youtu.be/iOGF93cDYNs